Encinitas parents threatening lawsuit over Jois yoga program in schools
You knew it was coming, right?
The parents in Encinitas who are upset that yoga is being taught — by every account via the Encinitas Union School District, its administrators and teachers, just as a good form of exercise that has proven benefits for kids — in the public school are threatening legal action.
The North County Times has the latest twist:
A group of parents who say that yoga lessons being taught in the Encinitas Union School District are a form of religious indoctrination are considering legal action against the district if the classes don’t stop, an attorney for the group said.
In an Oct. 12 email sent to Superintendent Tim Baird, attorney Dean Broyles, called the program unconstitutional and warned that he may initiate “a legal course of action” if the district doesn’t end it.
Broyles declined last week to discuss what the group has in mind, but said it’s considering all legal options.
“There’s a deep concern that the Encinitas Union School District is using taxpayer resources to promote Ashtanga yoga and Hinduism, a religion system of beliefs and practices,” Broyles said.
Here’s what I think is the key issue in this story, again from the NC Times: “Broyles is president and chief counsel for The National Center for Law & Policy, a nonprofit law firm that focuses on “the protection and promotion of religious freedom, the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, parental rights and other civil liberties,” according to its website.”
This has all the signs of just being a little battle in a bigger ongoing social war here in America. And it seems that the Jois Foundation, which has given a $533,000 grant to allow students throughout the district to take two 30-minute yoga classes per week.
“It’s not just yoga; it’s the background of who’s teaching it and how they were brought in,” said [Samantha] Vigil, whose daughter attends El Camino Creek.
The three-year grant is part of a partnership between the district and the Encinitas-based Jois Foundation, which some of the parents view as an overtly religious group. Broyles called it an “evangelic yoga foundation.”
This may be the point where we remind folks that Hinduism doesn’t have an evangelical aspect to it — but I suppose one could then argue that there’s a difference between Hinduism and “yoga” in this context.
In other words, is it a cut-and-dry issue? In some ways, yes: it’s just yoga, for goodness sake. And all the research shows that yoga can help kids be more focused, do better in school and be healthier.
But in other ways, it isn’t. Lots of folks would argue, and convincingly, that yoga and Hinduism can’t be separated. This idea obviously is driving this opposition. However, at this point, yoga as solely a form of exercise — from YogaWorks to yoga studios that are even less focused on the Indian aspects to yoga — almost militaristically, so — is pretty much here to stay in America.
And when I see that the group behind this is on the look out for anything it thinks runs against its image of what is American, I call BS.
Could this have been a “learning moment” for people involved, including the Jois Foundation (on how to promote yoga and health in a smarter way)? Yes, it could have. But I doubt it will be with this opposition involved.
The NC Times piece is worth a full read. I’ve pulled the most relevant items, but it covers the whole story, I think, pretty fairly.
Posted by Steve